No more Fox News contributor Dick Morris. His contract to spout republic-damaging nonsense on Fox airwaves has expired, and the network isn't renewing it.
Taken together with the news that Sarah Palin will no longer be contributing, the Morris development is strong evidence that Fox News has glimpsed the underside of allowing charlatans to brand its coverage. Palin was a roboto-contributor, who responded to everything with a little crack on the lamestream media and a reference to President Barack Obama's socialist heart.
As for Morris's misdeeds, well, everyone knows what they are. That's because Fox News presented them so prominently in the run-up to last year's presidential election. In his prime-time, pre-election appearances, Morris was among the few pundits who wouldn't hedge his bets; who wouldn't triangulate his way through the polling numbers; who wouldn't rummage through scenario after scenario in his analysis.
No, Dick Morris was predicting a Mitt Romney landslide. Fox News fell for it, and surely millions of Americans did as well. After all, in the same breath that he was predicting landslides, he was citing his own expertise:
“It's not a question of being smarter than anybody else. It's that I've done this for a living and there are very few people on television who talk about politics who've ever made a living doing it, and most of them are partisan and echoing a point of view, but when you get down to it, a guy like Karl Rove or Pat Caddell or me or even Joe Trippi, we make a living doing this and I've made a living doing it for 40 years.”
Vast arrogance and loose, poorly substantiated facts: a great combination for a cable-news contributor in these modern times. That Morris would choose to criticize all those “partisan” pundits on television is doubly ironic-pathetic. For one, Morris was a partisan player in the 2012 election who made frequent references to his work on the campaign trail; the Associated Press even noted that he was “criticized for accepting paid advertisements on his website from candidates that he discussed on the air at Fox.” And Morris's front-and-center predictions of a Romney landslide reflected a partisan desperation on the part of Fox News leading up to the campaign. Another element of that desperation was the network's unending Benghazi coverage.
Though much of the outrage on Fox airwaves regarding the Sept. 11 tragedy was well founded, Fox News published a blockbuster story just days before the election, and key parts of it have fallen apart under scrutiny. With hindsight, it bears the profile of an attempt to tilt the playing field against the incumbent president. Yet this is a time to celebrate Fox News. It has seen the lunacy of Dick Morris, and it's taking the appropriate step to inoculate itself against the ravages. Who knows who'll fill the minutes on Fox programs that Morris once populated with his verbal meanderings, but odds are it won't be as bad. Consider this little monologue that Morris spewed to his supporters after the election:
“I worked pretty hard over the course of this election. I was inspired by the dedication, the commitment, the energy the focus, the knowledge, the intelligence of you, of the people at the other end of this camera. This is not the end, this can't be the end, this is not how our country ends. This is not the end of the narrative that started with our revolution, continued through our Civil War and has made us by far the greatest country on earth. This is not the end. We can't let this guy end it for us.”
Don't worry, Morris: It's the end only of your relevance.
Wemple is a media critic for The Washington Post.